Munster's Simon Zebo deserves IRUPA Players' Player of the Year award

Yahoo! Contributor Network

Munster youngster Simon Zebo deserves to be named the Irish Rugby Union Players' Association's Player of the Year after a string of eye-catching performances over the past season.

Also on the shortlist for the end-year award is Leinster forward Cian Healy and Ulster number eight Nick Williams, with the winner set to be crowned on 8 May.

The 23-year-old, who is also nominated for the European Player of the Year in January, has thrilled on the wing for both Munster and Ireland this term.

In the Heineken Cup, he scored a memorable solo try in the 70th minute of Munster's 22-17 defeat by Racing Metro in October, beating two tackles and out-pacing an opponent to touch down.

Zebo was in even more clinical form for the return fixture in January 2013, scoring a hat-trick in a 29-6 win against the Top 14 side, becoming the first-ever player to score a Heineken Cup treble within the same year.

The Cork-born winger made his mark on the international scene with an outrageous piece of skill in the lead up to Healy's try in a 30-23 victory over Wales in the Six Nations, back-heeling the ball into his hands before off-loading.

Unfortunately, Zebo's Six Nations campaign was cut short due to a broken foot in the next game against England which sidelined the Munster star for 10 weeks, but his skill in Cardiff was widely recognised as one of the moments of the competition.

For the excitement which he brought to the campaign and moments of sheer brilliance, Zebo makes a popular choice for the player of the year award - and arguably the most deserving as one of Ireland's most consistent performers.

Leinster's Healy has been solid throughout the season but arguably has fallen just short of the standards which he set in his side's Heineken Cup winning campaign in 2012.

Meanwhile, Ulster number eight Nick Williams is the final contender to pick up the end-year gong, with the 29-year-old New Zealander surprising many at Ravenhill.

The Junior All Black was somewhat of an unknown quantity after signing from Italian side Aironi in June, penning a two-year deal, but has proved to more than just a back-up for Stephen Ferris and was virtually ever-present in the Ulster side.

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